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Recent University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service graduate Zack Huffman conducted data analysis on food behaviors and practices while developing a business plan to establish a mobile food market in Tallahatchie County, Miss.
Huffman was inspired to focus on food insecurity after having lived in the rural Mississippi Delta during his tenure as a corps member with Teach for America. It was while living in Sumner, Miss., that he commuted roughly 40 miles round-trip just to purchase fresh produce.
Currently 20.8 percent of Mississippian households are at risk for hunger. In Tallahatchie County, 39 percent of its adults are obese and 47 percent of the children live in poverty. Commutes for West Tallahatchie residents to retail vendors offering a readily available supply of fresh fruits and vegetables are over 20 miles one-way. In fact, for Sumner, Miss., the nearest supermarket is in an adjacent county.
After collaboration with Patrick Weems, the Director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, Huffman set out to better understand the severity of food insecurity in the area. His analysis of data previously collected by a research team from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy shed insight into the relationships between racial groups and food behaviors.
A business plan outlining the formation of the Mississippi Mobile Market was created to provide guidance on how a mobile market intervention would be the best way to bring fresh fruit and vegetable access to the residents of West Tallahatchie.
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Director of Public Programs and Strategic Partnerships Nikolai DiPippa and Class 7 alum Burt Hicks were recently named to the Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 Class of 2018.
The two were selected by an internal committee from more than 300 nominees. The committee considered previous accomplishments, both professional and in community service
DiPippa, whose work with the schools dates back to before it opened, oversees the Clinton School Speaker Series. The series has hosted nearly 1,300 programs, including 47 ambassadors, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, 12 heads of state, and seven Nobel Prize winners. More than 200,000 have attended the series in-person while more than 500,000 more have viewed programs online.
During the 2017-18 academic year, DiPippa oversaw the launch of the Clinton School’s first online degree, the Executive Master of Public Service.
Hicks, who currently serves as president and CEO of the Simmons First Investment Group, also earned a concurrent juris doctor from the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. SFIG is a retail broker-dealer and investment adviser, and he immediately oversaw a restructuring of the growing operation that resulted in record revenue and profit.
See the complete list of the Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 Class of 2018.
Xochitl Delgado-Solorzano (Class 11) accepted a new position as Director of the Honors College Path Program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. The program prepares exceptional high school students from underrepresented populations to excel at UAF.
Lindsey Clark (Class 3) graduated from Northeast Ohio Medical University in May. She starts as an Internal Medicine Primary Care resident at the University of Kentucky in the fall.
Emily English (Class 3), who currently works as a Program Administrator in the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute Access to Healthy Foods Research Group, earned her Ph.D. in public health from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Julianne Dunn (Class 4) accepted a new position in Community and Economic Development with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock.
Stephanie Ryan McCoy (Class 6) is serving as lead of the community needs assessment work for Susan G. Komen in Dallas, Texas. McCoy is also working on Susan G. Komen’s African-American Health Equity Initiative to reduce breast cancer death rates among African-American women.
Jessica Boyd Andrews (Class 8) is now CEO of 7hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Andrews previously served as the first executive director of Community Venture Foundation, also in Fayetteville.
Amie Alexander (Class 12), while completing a concurrent law degree at UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking with the Mitchell Williams and Friday, Elridge, & Clark law firms in Little Rock this summer.
Marquisa Wince (Milwaukee, Wisc.), who recently completed her first year at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, is in Nairobi, Kenya, this summer for her International Public Service Project.
Wince is working with Probation and Aftercare Services, a government department under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination where she is supervised by Clinton School alum Florence Mueni, who serves as an officer in the department.
“She’s actually really involved in my work,” Wince said of Mueni. “I ask her to help me out. She’s introduced me to everyone in the office and set up the focus groups and made sure that I’m getting connected to the people that I need.”
Wince has been in Kenya for almost three weeks and has been able to start her work with few transitional issues.
“It’s been amazing so far,” Wince said. “It’s been pretty easy (in terms of the transition). I don’t know Swahili, which can be kind of difficult in some cases, but most folks can understand English. I’ve just been told that I talk really fast. I’m trying to slow down and be mindful.”
What drew you to this specific project?
What I’m doing is an evaluation for formerly incarcerated youth. Their system is different from the U.S. system. They have probation hostels, where if the judge deems it fit and the offender agrees to it, they can enter the hostel for one year. Like probation, or sort of like a half-way house, I’m trying to determine if the services are effective in the rehabilitation of the offenders.
What drew me to that, first, is my interest in working with young people. I’ve always been interested in being an advocate for youth and interested in the area of juvenile justice. That was one piece of it. Also, I’m a concurrent student who will be starting the J.D. program (at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law) this August, so I definitely wanted to pick an IPSP that exposed me to some king of legal work, even though it’s a different system.
I jumped right in. The first week I was here, I had a trip to one of the hostels and started right away with data collection and interviews and focus groups. Initially I was a little anxious about how to connect, especially with the young people, because the majority in the hostels are under the age of 24. I was really worried about the language barrier, specifically. But, right away, it was really clear that I was supposed to be doing this work and connecting with people here.
Was there any particular moment you realized you were supposed to be doing this work?
This is true of all the hostels I’ve visited so far: I think it’s simply the time that I spend after the focus group is completed, removing myself from the official meeting area and just hanging out with the young men and women in the hostels.
They ask so many questions, and I realize the intelligence and innocence of these kids that are written off. It brings me home because I do a lot of youth work. It’s a reminder that young people everywhere are in need of advocates and people to listen to them and be honest with them. Not one specific conversation or moment, but that one-on-one time where I can sit down and have fun with the kids. I think I feel most at home when I have that down time.
What other sort of youth work have you done?
Something that was really important to me was my first exposure to it, a group in Milwaukee called Urban Underground. I wear my Urban Underground bracelet everyday, even here. It’s something that is a constant reminder. It shaped and molded me and called me to this work. It was pivotal. Had I not gone through Urban Underground, I don’t think I would be working here and doing this project.
In Arkansas, I led a workshop with the HRC Youth Summit. I went to the Lake Village area and did a week-long spring break camp with a cultural center. Back in Milwaukee I did a lot of day camp work, before and after care services, and other things like that.
Are there many similarities to your Practicum work with Phoenix Youth and Family Services?
Yeah, I was just thinking about that the other day. There are a lot of similarities. Not necessarily with the interviews and actual data collection, but I spearheaded the youth groups with Phoenix as well. Translating those skills, even with the language barrier, is something I fell back on. The youth with Phoenix were also involved in the juvenile justice system, so the population was really similar in how they view themselves or in the stigma that was associated with them.
The biggest similarity is just keeping in mind that the focus of my work is to make sure the young people receive the best services they can. That has kept me going – the work I’m doing can actually impact the lives of these young people.
My expectations are higher. I think I came into this with pretty high expectations, but after doing these initial interviews and seeing the need and importance of getting some quality work and recommendations for the department, I think the expectations for myself are way higher. The expectations and the duty I have to these young people is driving me to go beyond what I’m doing now.
The initiative to create a public space for outdoor education and recreation across from the Yvonne Richardson Community Center was supported by recent Clinton School graduate Caroline Dunlap (Brookline, Mass.), who provided assistance in pursuing funding for the development of the park.
This work was done as part of Dunlap’s graduate coursework and consisted of researching and pursuing sources of funding that aligned with the park’s cultural, social, and environmental significance.
“This project presents a fantastic opportunity to create equitable access to outdoor recreation and environmental education that is lacking in the neighborhood,” said Dunlap.
The plan to make Buddy Hayes Park an accessible city park via the removal of invasive species and litter and the addition of walkways, stream access, and outdoor seating was initiated by residents and community advocates who noted the lack of access to public green space in South Fayetteville.
To support the development of the park in the short and long term, Dunlap researched grant opportunities and contacted funders to introduce the park project and convey its significance. By providing a baseline of knowledge about available grants and making contact with program officers, Dunlap sought to help the community partners take advantage of funding opportunities that align with the goals of the park project.
Moving forward, neighborhood leaders will take a community-based approach to the development of Buddy Hayes Park, in order for the project to effectively serve the needs of the community.
Buddy Hayes Park, named for notable resident and musician Buddy Hayes, is located in a historically African-American neighborhood and is bisected by the Sprout Spring Branch creek, a tributary of the Town Branch, which flows into Beaver Lake, the primary source of drinking water for 420,000 Arkansans.
About the City of Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department
The mission of the City of Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department is to meet the outdoor recreation needs of all residents by providing a safe and diversified park system that encourages community pride, visionary planning and operations, and environmental stewardship.
With the completion of the 2017-18 school year in May, thirteen classes of University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service students have now combined to complete over 315,000 hours of direct public service throughout Arkansas, the United States, and the world.
“Surpassing 300,000 hours equates to more than 36 years of field work and community engagement,” said Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford. “That’s a significant amount of public service work outside the classroom and sometime in calendar year 2019, our students will pass 1,000 completed projects.”
“What makes the Clinton School unique from more traditional graduate programs is this field service work,” said Rutherford. “In collaboration with community organizations, our students continue to address important needs and achieve some notable outcomes.”
The Clinton School’s first student project in 2005-06 was a feasibility study for a Boys and Girls Club in Helena, Ark.
This summer, 45 Clinton School students are working on international projects in 28 countries with 22 partner organizations including Winrock International, Vital Voices Global Partnership, The Asia Foundation, and MassChallenge Israel.
In a 2013 study, the Wallace Center at Winrock International found that there are hundreds of organizations across the country working to address complex issues in vulnerable communities through building a healthier food system. Most of these groups are trying to achieve the same community development goals but are not necessarily aware of each other or sharing their best practices, lessons learned, and other innovations worthy of emulation.
In 2017, the Wallace Center launched the Food Systems Leadership Network, a national Community of Practice for staff and leaders of community-based organizations working on food systems change to address this gap and ensure improved peer-to-peer relationship among leaders of these organizations.
Working with University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service student Darlynton Adegor, the Wallace Center was able to create an evaluation framework for this initiative and measure the impact the project is having on the target audience and the community.
“Darlynton helped us think through our theory of change, develop a ‘logic model’ that links our activities to our goals for the project, and created an evaluation framework that will serve us for years to come,” said Program Officer Susan Schempf. “We are grateful for his thought partnership and look forward to implementing his recommendations so that we can document the impact of this initiative to our partners and funders.”
Adegor completed his research as part of his Capstone, the culminating field service project at the Clinton School of Public Service. He plans to remain involved and help with the implementation of the proposed evaluation framework.
About The Wallace Center at Winrock International
The Wallace Center is a unit within the Enterprise and Agriculture Group of Winrock International. Its mission is to develop partnerships, pilot new ideas, and advance solutions to strengthen communities through resilient farming and food systems.
Central High School’s Memory Project students, the National Park Service, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and other community leaders have combined to begin work on a commemorative bench to honor Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford
The bench will be a replica of the original that Eckford retreated to on Sept. 4, 1957, when the National Guard blocked the Little Rock Nine from desegregating Central High School. Eckford’s heckling by a mob, both on the way to school and as she sat on the bench, were captured in iconic photographs.
The photograph of 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford walking alone through a hostile mob at Central High in 1957 remains one of the most memorable moments of the civil rights movement and in Arkansas history.
As part of the project, a mobile app will be developed for the students’ audio walking tour of eyewitness accounts, which the Memory Project has been compiling. Students and partners will also develop a StoryCorps recording booth for interviews and student podcasts. Signage and landscaping will also be part of the project.
To support the project, make a tax-deductible check payable to the Central High Museum, Inc., and mail to:
Little Rock Central National Historic Site
2120 Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive
Little Rock, AR 72202
Partners in the project include the Bullock Temple C.M.E; Central High and its East Lab; the Little Rock School District; the city of Little Rock; the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies; the Good Earth Garden Center; Friends of Central High Museum Inc., Home Depot, Little Rock Club 99 and other Rotary Clubs; Pam Brown Courtney and Dr. Willis Courtney, the Clinton School of Public Service; Unity in the Community; and others.
Beth Quarles is a first-year student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. A graduate of Lipscomb University, Quarles earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and her master’s degree in teaching English language learners and instructional leadership.
Quarles has spent more than a decade working in education. Upon completion of her undergraduate work, Quarles spent two years teaching English and American culture at Three Gorges University in Yichang, China. In addition to her time in China, Quarles taught at elementary schools in Nashville, Tenn., and Jonesboro, Ark., before coming to the Clinton School.
Along with three other first-year students, Quarles spent the 2017-18 academic year working on a Practicum project with the Hope Academy of Public Service, assessing the impact of a middle school public service curriculum.
This summer, Quarles will work with Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas as a placement specialist. She will focus on developing partnerships within the Hispanic community. Quarles will work to recruit volunteers and girls to springboard into a Girl Scout program in the Hispanic community. She will also be involved with direct programming for the girls, working on community cultivation, and providing support to current members.
How did you become an instructor at Three Gorges University?
At Lipscomb University, the college I attended, one of my professors was trying to set up a partnership between a Chinese university and Lipscomb so that students and faculty could go back and forth for an exchange program.
A group of friends and I – there were four of us – were going to move to China together, and we were going to work at this university. And the Chinese university was going to send four teachers to Lipscomb to teach. At the last minute, that didn’t work out. But, there’s an organization called China Now that does a lot of mission work in China, which set us up with a university in China – Three Gorges – and we were able to teach there.
A lot of it was just correcting stereotypes. A lot of students thought that all Americans owned jets. China has a tiered university system, so how well the students did on their entrance exam determined where they were placed or limited their choices.
A lot of the students that attended Three Gorges came from a country background. The only experience that they ever had with American culture was from movies. Anything that they had seen in movies was what they thought American lives were like. A lot of it was just showing that we aren’t that different.
What has your experience with Hope Schools been like based on your service interest in education?
I really enjoyed it. I have taught for 10 years. I was an elementary school teacher. When I came to the Clinton School and we had the list of practicum topics, I went back and forth – I didn’t know if I wanted to do something in the education field, because I’ve had so much experience in that. I wasn’t sure if it was my top choice. But I’m so grateful it was, because I really do find myself missing the classroom more than I ever could have thought.
It was really nice to be in the school once a week. It’s really neat to see the Clinton School framework applied in a middle school setting. That’s something I’ve never gotten to see before. The fact that kids are talking about big issues that I know I never talked about when I was in middle school. It is really cool to see these students thinking bigger than themselves. The whole community is really dedicated to making it a really good experience for the students. It’s really encouraging, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
After I finished undergrad, I went to China for two years. Then, I started working for Metro Nashville Schools at Una Elementary. I taught fourth-grade ESL for two years. All of my students were non-native English speakers. I was also a literacy coach and family engagement specialist. I set up a parent center at our elementary school. I ran Title I budgets for our school.
When I was 24, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I took a year off and ran a bed and breakfast, because that was a lifelong dream. I really live by my dreams; I’m not putting dreams off. I did that for a year, then went back to the same school in Nashville and taught first grade. Then, I moved to Jonesboro, Ark., where I taught three years for the Nettleton School District. I taught first grade there, as well.
When teaching ESL students, what is a useful skill that people wouldn’t expect?
This sounds a little silly, but hospitality. When I lived in China, everyone had me to their home. All of the students wanted me to come home with them and have a meal with them. I felt like a lot of the families of my ESL students, when they moved to the United States, didn’t have that same hospitality and it really showed. They closed themselves off to some degree. They weren’t as involved in school and school family nights. I don’t think that they necessarily felt welcome.
When I became an ESL teacher, a lot of parents would relate to me. I would talk about my experience in China, and that I knew what it felt like to be an outsider. They really started opening up. Then, I would have class family nights where we would have potlucks. I would have things just for my classroom, so parents could get to feel more comfortable and hopefully that would carry over into school-wide events. Hospitality goes really far. Even if you can’t speak the same language, you can at least share a meal together. It’s amazing what doors open from that, just sharing a meal.
Tell us about your role with Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
I work there part-time currently. Right now, I’m a placement specialist, so when someone calls to sign their daughter up, I fill a spot based on what troops have spots open. They are really wanting to get more involved in Hispanic communities, specifically through setting up troops for Spanish speakers and finding ways for their mothers to get involved. I’ll be working a lot in northwest Arkansas but will be based here in Little Rock. We’ll be working to create community partners, hopefully with churches. Hopefully those partnerships will springboard into recruiting more volunteers and more girls for Girl Scouts.